Central American Tapir

Central American tapirs (Tapirus bairdii) are large herbivorous mammals that can be found in the 5 Forests. Classified as endangered by the IUCN, they are vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation.

The Central American Tapir is the largest land mammal in the Neotropics and also one of the most ecologically important species. Tapirs have a great impact on the stability of neotropical forests, which is why they are known as the "Gardeners of the Forest". Because they disperse a variety of large seeds, tapirs are not only important because of their role as ecosystem architects, but they are also one of the strongest allies in our fight against global climate change.


Baby tapirs are born covered in black, yellow, and white stripes and spots, serving as camouflage against predators during these vulnerable first months of life. These streaks and spots fade slowly and disappear completely in five to six months. Tapir calves stay with their mothers for up to 18 months.

The main threats to the species are habitat destruction and fragmentation and hunting throughout its range. Deaths have been recorded from collisions with automobiles. An estimate by the Tapir Specialist Group suggested that fewer than 5,500 Central American tapirs remain in the wild.

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